Friends and family (about 1,500 attendees total) gathered Saturday to honor the “First Lady of the greatest generation,” Barbara Bush. A number of high profile figures were there, including the Obamas, Clintons and Melania Trump.
Of course, there’s that big elephant in the room. Why didn’t President Trump attend?
“To avoid disruptions due to added security, and out of respect for the Bush Family and friends attending the service, President Trump will not attend,” White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters said in a statement.
Hence, Melania attended “on behalf of the first family.”
A lot of people were put off by that, but there’s an important reminder: Sitting presidents RARELY attend the funeral services of former first ladies.
Similarly, in 2016, then-President Obama did not attend the funeral of former first lady Nancy Reagan, while his wife did. Sitting presidents have rarely in recent decades gone to the funerals of former first ladies, according to FactCheck.org, a project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center in Philadelphia.
Trump did, in fact, watch the funeral service from Mar-a-Lago.
Heading to the Southern White House to watch the Funeral Service of Barbara Bush. First Lady Melania has arrived in Houston to pay our respects. Will be a beautiful day!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2018
We’re not sure if Barbara Bush’s family asked that POTUS not attend due to the additional burden of security. That could very well be so. I think that he should’ve asked what they preferred (and maybe he did?) and done that. If they wanted him there, he should’ve been there. I’m not judging. Obviously, I don’t know what discussions they had behind the scenes.
Melania was there representing the First Family, and I think she’s truly a perfect representation. She also invited two White House staffers who were close to Barbara, and they went as her guests.
Trump was accompanied by former White House head maitre d’ George Hainey and current White House usher Buddy Carter, the first lady’s office said.
“She knew they were very close to the Bush family and wanted them to be able to pay their respects,” spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said.
I love that.
It was my honor to travel to Houston to give my respects to Barbara Bush and the remarkable life she led as a mother, wife, and fearless First Lady. My sincerest thoughts and prayers continue to be with George H.W., and the entire Bush family.
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) April 21, 2018
Such sweet words.
h/t The Hill